There must be a disclaimer made right from the jump here: this is the first Detroit Lions game I've seen all season. I had some previous engagements that kept me away from the television throughout the entire month of September, so this truly is a legit “takeaways” article. Their pure domination over the Carolina Panthers was an incredible sight to behold and welcomed after the disaster that occurred on Christmas Eve last year. Here's what I witnessed today:
Detroit Lions dominate the Panthers and here are the takeaways
There is no doubt this one wasn't going to be close, from the first quarter on. Yes, the Panthers got on a little bit of a roll and picked up some first downs, but the defense forced a punt and gave the offense an opportunity to work its magic. Sam LaPorta is incredible and our defense was stout. All of that fits into our takeaways.
Takeaway #1: The Detroit Lions offense is legit ‘elite'
Whether it's Ben Johnson or something else, this Lions' offense is elite. They may even be the best offense in the entire league. Jared Goff was incredible today, going 20-28 for 236 and three touchdowns, including a rushing touchdown. Did it matter that Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jamyr Gibbs were inactive for the game today? No, it didn't, not in the least bit. The best part about all of this? The Lions offensive line hasn't even played at 100% this season. There's a real thought process about them taking another step forward when they are 100% healthy. Enjoy this Lions' fans, this offense is something we haven't enjoyed around these parts in a long time.
Takeaway #2: Sam LaPorta is the real deal
I'll admit that when I heard the Lions were selecting another tight end out of Iowa I was less than enthused. Yes, all the pundits said that he was an incredible pass catcher and all of that, but it felt too much like another long-haired letdown that we'd previously had to deal with.
I was wrong.
Same LaPorta is the real deal. Heck, I'll say it – I'm glad we have him and not T.J. Hockenson, because he's better. All LaPorta is doing is setting NFL rookie TE records and franchise records just about every game and has become a really good target for Jared Goff and a reliable option for this elite offense (see takeaway #1).
Takeaway #3: This is NOT your SOL Lions' defense
This defense is pretty, pretty, pretty good. They came into today's game allowing the fewest yards on the ground per game (just under 61) and they kept getting pressure on Bryce Young without having to utilize a ton of blitz packages. Aidan Hutchinson, Charles Harris, and others were doing a great job of creating havoc, knocking Young off his spot often, and keeping the Panthers behind schedule.
Not to mention, the weakest point of the defense in seasons past was their secondary. That has been improved too. If it hadn't been for two bogus roughing the passer calls, Young wouldn't have thrown for three touchdowns, only one. But they were bailed out and took advantage of that.
Finally, I must mention Alex Anzalone, who played a pretty darn good game today. Yes, there was the bogus roughing the passer call at the end of the game, he was phenomenal. He was the leading tackler for the game and was also pretty good in coverage, helping to lead the defense to a great shutdown game.
The bottom line
Buckle up, this is going to be a really fun season. Obviously barring some type of catastrophe, this team will be contending for the NFC North Division Title and potentially a playoff home game, and maybe even a first-round bye. A matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week will provide a good opportunity for competition and will serve them well within the NFC, should the leave with a win. Let's all enjoy this team while we can, it's been a really long time since we've had something to cheer about.